Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Geeks, Dorks, and Nerds

My daughter and I were recently discussing the precise definitions of Geeks, Dorks, and Nerds.

When I first started this blog, I could have called it NerdDoctor or DorkDoc, but luckily I chose Geekdoctor, since it aligns well with the definition of a Geek.

Here's the key vocabulary:

Geek – someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one, such as healthcare IT.

Dork – someone who has difficulty with common social expectations and interactions.

Nerd – someone who loves learning and academics.

My daughter and I agree that we're an admixture of all these qualities.

In high school, I was part of small cohort of computer geeks who used MITS Altair 8800 , Wang word processors, and 110 baud dial up teletypes with thermal paper instead of video displays. We were obsessed with the potential of early microcomputers, an esoteric subject that meets the definition of geeky behavior.

In elementary and high school, I wore shirts buttoned to the top and had no sense of fashion or rhythm. I was definitely socially awkward, a dork.

I spent 30 years in academics as a student, so I guess that makes me nerdy.

Of course, I've long exhibited other characteristics that are badges of courage for geeks, dorks and nerds.

*Watched every Star Trek episode multiple times and can recite most dialog from memory

*Played Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering

*Favorite books include Lord of the Rings and just about any science fiction

*Favorite TV series include Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Dr. Who.

*Favorite movies include Star Wars, Blade Runner, and bad Japanese monster films

Here's a great video that embodies my Geek, Dork and Nerd values. Highly recommended!


MJA said...

My girlfriend and I had this debate recently.

Here's my take:

Geek: Someone extremely devoted to a specific, often obscure, definitely un-cool pursuit. The twist being that it is an active pursuit, like a hobby or craft (I don't mean active as in sports, believe me). So like a model car geek or robot geek or Star Trek geek (if he dresses up). Example: Tron Guy.

Nerd: A similarly obsessed, also un-cool person, but obsessed more with passive or knowledge-based concerns. A comic book nerd reads them continually. A baseball stats nerd can spout off for hours. A Buffy nerd knows the entire mythology. Example: Ken Jennings (Jeopardy big winner).

Dork: A person with some degree of social dysfunction, but with a lean towards the goofy side. Cares not as much about being foolish publicly. Not cool, but charming in certain contexts. Example: Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Dweeb: Social dysfunction, but with no redeemable qualities. Just really unpleasant, awkward, often snot-laden. Example: Screech

Personalities contain varying amount of each. And mixed with a certain amount of actual cool-ness (or money), the traits can be seen in a positive light (except for dweebs).

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't want to march under any other banner. Thanks for the clarification and the fun!Your blog is most excellent.

Kristen said...

Thank you for this post, it is very funny. I also liked the video. Related nerdy views of life can be enjoyed by watching weird al yankovic's "white and nerdy." For extra credit, contrast the video on which his parody is based...chamillionaire's "ridin dirty."

go nerds.

David G said...

The best way I've ever found to define the terms is an appropriately geeky venn diagram.

In which I find myself classified as a geek.

Ahier said...

This is the Geek/Nerd/Dork Venn Diagram which adequately explains our kind:

Larry Scott said...

Had a conversation with my 14 year old, 8th grade son on the way to school. He remarked that his lunch table is known as the "Nerd Herd". And the tech geeks are on one side of the table. I laughed and advised him that industry is full of middle and high school nerds. He had no problem with the label at all. He then went on to tell me he won the 200 meter race he ran in (28 seconds). So he is pretty cool in my book and he can be a member of whatever Nerd Herd he likes!

Larry Scott said...

My 14 year old son is a member of the self-described "Nerd Herd" at his middle school. He also happens to run the 200 meters in 28 seconds and plays violin and viola. All I can say is "Go Nerds".

Valur said...

I was too all those things: I was the star of the football team and nothing was as important as sports, my best friend was the prom king so I was one of the cool kids who cut other people off in line and didn´t listen to or respected few, just did our own thing. Well then I´m endlessly curious and academics took me into worlds of history and science, well I have always been a nerd.
The only difference between the people that where cool and those who were not was that we believed we were cool. But when I think back; we where not! :)